is planning a push to gain third-party distribution for its branded mutual funds in 2003. As part of the effort the nation's largest wirehouse is rebranding its Mercury Funds family under the Merrill Lynch Funds name. The initiative is being headed by Daniel J. Dart
, chief operating officer and head of Merrill's non-proprietary retail distribution business. Dart joined Merrill in August.
The combined fund family will be distributed solely on the Merrill Lynch name to other broker-dealers, wirehouses, insurance companies and banks, according to the firm. The firm also reports it has added key account people as part of the push on third-party opportunities.
The efforts will not be limited to only pushing the firm's funds through third-party channels. Merrill also will offer investment management for subadvisory relationships, 529 college investing plans, separately managed accounts, alternative investments, according to officials.
"Third-party distribution is a crucial component of Merrill Lynch Investment Managers' growth strategy. In terms of breadth and depth of products, few players can offer clients what we can," said Dart, in a statement. "This consolidation strengthens our ability to be a major provider of investment management expertise across all asset classes and to all market segments."
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